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Annual Ratliff camp hosts 200

Hometown hero Theo Ratliff was on hand at the activity center bearing his name this week for the latest installment of his annual basketball camp.

“Just to be able to come back and see the young kids and see them enjoying the activity center. They come from all different walks of life,” Ratliff said. “A lot of the people I grew up with, their kids are now coming to the camp.”

According to TRAC director Ed Ward, the two-day camp saw participation from more than 200 young people ranging from age six through high school.

“Very satisfied, everything ran well,” Ward said. All campers reported to the activity center Wednesday morning before splitting into age groups.

In order to accommodate the number of attendees, event organizers had to utilize the gyms at Demopolis High School and Demopolis Middle School.

“One of the main things (that made things run smoothly) was that we had all the coaches come in and volunteer at the three sites,” Ward said. “That’s the scariest things is wondering if you’re going to have enough coaches.”

Ward reported that each site saw an adequate number of volunteer coaches, helping the event to go off with little to no unforeseen difficulty.

“At an event like this, there are so many people that are important to this project behind the scenes and I just want to say ‘thank you’ to those guys,” Ward said.

The annual camp affords local youngsters the unique opportunity to work on their skills while interacting with an NBA player.

“It allows them an opportunity to interact with a professional basketball player,” ward said. “It motivates them.”

“It just gives them an opportunity to come out and learn a little bit,” Ratliff said of the event. “It’s just about teaching them to go out and maximize their opportunities and just try to be the best they can be.”

While Ward has grown accustomed to the ins and outs of operating the camp, he still seems in awe of the way attendees respond to Ratliff.

“These kids have a lot of energy,” Ward said. “But I notice that when Mr. Ratliff speaks, they’re so quiet and attentive.”

Ward said the camp is just one of the ways in which Ratliff encourages the children associated with the center.

“Mr. Ratliff is so patient and so unique,” Ward said of the two-time NBA All-Star center who took the time to sign the T-shirts of campers. “Throughout the course of the season, he was sending (NBA game) tickets. He does so much for the kids at the Ratliff Center.”